218 Centre Hokkien Mee – A Smokin’ Hot Classic in Punggol
While good food is readily available in most parts of Singapore, I think it’s fair to say that certain places are not as populated with good food as others. Punggol is one of such places, and we were thrilled to find a hidden old school hawker in Matilda estate. 218 Center Hokkien Mee first started when Mr Tan took over his father’s store back in 1968. Mr Tan went on a 20-year hiatus but eventually decided to return to his craft as he felt bored of his retiree life. Now nearly 70 years old, he runs the stall with his wife daily.
When you walk into the coffee shop, you’ll notice that there’s also another stall called 218 Center Minced Meat Noodles which is run by Mr Tan’s sister. Mr Tan told me that he had shifted to this 8-month old coffee shop from his previous stall in Toa Payoh Lorong 5. He intends to find someone to take over his stall one day but tells us that his son who works in the Navy isn’t interested in the business.
His Hokkien mee stands out with a strong wok hei. Mr Tan shared that he tries to cook his Hokkien Mee in batches of 4 servings so that the wok hei doesn’t overpower the dish as compared to cooking just 1 serving. To achieve this level of Wok Hei, Mr Tan watches the temperature very closely so that it doesn’t get chao da (burnt). If you noticed loud clangs of metal, take a peep and you’ll see Mr Tan dramatically hitting the wok with his metal spatula. It is so that the noodles don’t stick to each other or the wok.
If your palate favours wok hei, you’re going to love the hokkien mee here. The smoky flavour dominates the dish and you’re definitely not going to miss it. The noodles are limp and boast rich layers of flavour thanks to his prawn broth. Mr Tan revealed that he uses prawns, pig skins, pork ribs,and more secret ingredients, to achieve the fragrant and robust broth used in the dish. The Hokkien Mee ($4/$5/$6) comes with pork belly slices and juicy prawns. I liked the firmness of the prawns but would’ve wanted more. The Hokkien Mee is the wet version and offers great value for money. Remember to mix in his homemade chilli for a sour-spicy kick. Whilst certainly impressive and appetising, I thought that the wok hei overshadowed the essential flavours of the classic hawker dish. Probably because we were his only customers when we were there, so he only cooked 1 serving. Despite that, I must admit that I’m still a fan of his hokkien mee.
We also had the char kway teow which lacks the same intense wok hei present in the hokkien mee. Topped with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and see hum (cockles), the char kway teow($3.50/$4) didn’t disappoint. An ample amount of egg is used. I would have liked more wok hei but this is a delectable dish nonetheless.
I’m definitely impressed by Mr Tan’s mastery in imparting wok hei to his dishes. If you’re a hokkien mee fan, I’d say the hokkien mee here is definitely worth a shot.
Note that this place is really new, so your GPS might not be able to find it (I used gothere.sg, as google maps isn’t updated yet). Also note that he only starts selling Hokkien Mee at 11am even though they open at 8am (only carrot cake and char kway teow are available at 8am)!
218 Centre Hokkien Mee
Address: Blk 218 Sumang Walk, Singapore 820218
Opening Hours: 8am to 1130pm daily.
MissTamChiak.com made anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
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